Surviving teenage years

You've lived through 2 a.m. feedings, toddler temper tantrums, and the back-to-school blues. So why does the word "teenager" cause so much worry?

I love having teenagers. I love learning about their world. They make me laugh and they teach me something new. Every day. I will hate the day when I don’t know the songs that are played on the radio. When I can’t understand what they are saying. Every stage of being a parent comes with challenges and rewards. Parenting teenagers is no different. But is it really a time to completely despair? There are lots of guides out there telling us how to survive the teenage years. It makes it sound so negative.  On adverts, teenagers are portrayed as trouble. There are always news stories about telling us about “gangs” of teenagers. Reporting on Teenagers anti-social behaviour. I know from experience the negativity that surrounds teenagers. Particularly teenage boys.

I remember when my sons were in their mid-teens, the attitude of the other adults around them was often hostile and suspicious. Our sons would come along with us on family days out with their younger sisters. But when parents with young children saw them  playing in a park, they were often accused of being too big, too rough, too noisy. People made judgements and assumptions simply because they were the enemy. The teenage boy. They are both adults now. They are great company and contributing positively to society.  Most of the time!

And we “survived” those years. I am not saying they didn’t make stupid decisions in those years. They did. They got in trouble at school. They failed to see the importance of studying for exams. They had friends I wished they didn’t have. They lost iPhones, PE kits, had sulks and heartbreak. But I had to be resilient, have a sense of humour and not take it too personally. They ate extraordinary amounts of food, and the smell of a boy’s bedroom will not leave me. Despite that, I embraced every part of it. But Nobody expects you to embrace it. God forbid if you enjoy it!

I now have teenage girls. They can be moody and emotional and selfish. They are frustrating and I have to take deep breaths a dozen times a day!

They are late for everything because their eyebrows don’t look quite right. And they have ruined their bedroom carpets with makeup.

They are dramatic and exhausting.

And wonderful, and refreshing and watching them blossom is a journey I wouldn’t want to miss.

When it comes to fostering, it’s no different. The older age group are often dismissed as being too difficult and too much trouble. People assume that they will come along with attitude and crime and anti-social behaviours. It is true that they might, but to think that the challenges they present are somehow greater than a baby, a toddler or a 7-year-old is widely misplaced. Don’t expect the worst.

And teenagers need someone to have their back more at this crucial time of their lives. They need to know that someone is bothered about why they haven’t answered their phone, why they are late. They need someone to pick up the pieces and want them to do well. Particularly teenagers who have probably been let down, and have problems with trusting adults in their lives. It is a time of intense growth, a confusing time.

Teenagers are rewarding, energetic, and often thoughtful.

They need a consistent calm environment to guide them to making the right decisions. To help them reach their potential and become the adults you know they could be. And when you see them become those adults. You know you have done a wonderful thing in taking that chance on letting that child into your home and your life.

Consider fostering.

Especially those often overlooked.